Iced Coffee: The Cold Caffeine Kick

My father was a university professor and my mother worked in hospitality. Between the two of them, coffee was available in the kitchen at all hours of the day and night. Of course, regardless of the weather outside, it was always the hot brew fresh from the coffee pot in the morning, and the iced stuff always came out in the afternoon and in the evening. For me, it does not matter what time of day it is: I want ice-cold coffee all the time.

Now most people would say “Take a cup of coffee, add ice and there you have it: Iced coffee. Just like Starbucks, Nespresso and even McDonalds do it.” You could not be farther from the truth. When it comes to getting ice coffee perfect, you should not be spending money on something that is going to become watered coffee swill. The perfect cup of ice coffee starts with advanced preparation and a lot of patience and what some will find to be ridiculous attention to detail.

First, you need to start with a fresh pot of coffee that is stronger than your typical morning brew, let it cool to room temperature before you stick it in the fridge. Coffee that has been “flash-cooled” can come out a lot more bitter. Letting it cool will help preserve the flavor of your coffee.

Second, your ice cubes. Anyone can stick water in the freezer and get ice cubes to go into the glass. Unfortunately, you will get that watered down swill. The trick to getting the perfect ice for iced coffee is in your kitchen: Do not throw out that leftover coffee. Make ice cubes from it and you will have ice that keeps your coffee cold, adds flavor and maintains the strength of your coffee without watering it down.

The last thing you need to consider is your sweetener – those of you who take your coffee black as midnight, head to the kitchen, drain your left over coffee in to an ice cube tray to make those ice cubes. For those of you that want or need something sweet in your coffee, my advice is to make it like barista and melt some sugar in a piping hot shot of espresso and then “flash-cool” in the fridge. It keeps really well and saves you the headache of trying to stir sugar in a cold liquid. Of course, you could also use sugar syrup from the store or make your own (simmer equal parts of sugar and water until its sweet enough for you).

When it comes to sugar, consider taking a different route and go Vietnamese (using sweetened condensed milk) or Punjabi (using regular condensed milk). Both recipes use condensed milk as a sweetener in the coffees to create incredible coffee drinking experiences. They can also create a super rich coffee that can act as a dessert.

I guess all of you who are now scrambling for an ice cube tray, and a pot to simmer down sugar and water, so take a moment to thank my parents for every hint and trick that you are going to use to make your perfect cup of iced coffee.

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